Reenskaug Hotel in Drøbak – a different kind of hotel
Did you know that there is a historic hotel located in central Drøbak, where both Knut Hamsun and Edvard Munch (as well as his lover) stayed, and that may even have been featured on an episode of the Norwegian TV series Åndenes Makt (“The Power of the Spirits”) if the hotel manager hadn’t thought it would be a little too awkward? Perhaps you’ve visited the lovely hotel bar without realizing it was part of a hotel? Welcome to the Reenskaug Hotel – a hotel that has just about everything!
The historic Reenskaug Hotel is situated in a 140-year-old building and joined our family of hotels just at the same time that we became Strawberry in May 2023. There is so much history in the walls here!
Two Strawberry insiders traveled to this charming coastal town to take a closer look at what the hotel has to offer.
Join us as two moderately informed and discerning ladies in their mid-thirties make several surprise discoveries at a hotel that has been visited by great artist, world-famous authors and other big names!
...to groups of lads who have grown tired of Oslo nightlife have taken the trip out here for a change of scenery. And worth noting…it is said that a ghost by the name of “Mrs Bollette” wanders around here from time to time...
A place where everyone feels at home
“Groups of girls often come here to spend the night, often from far away. There are numerous special and unique shops here in Drøbak, so it’s the ideal place to combine an overnight stay and some hopping,” General Manager Kjetil Eide says just a short time after we have stepped in through the hotel entrance that suddenly appears in the midst of densely built, white wooden houses in the heart of Drøbak.
General Manager Kjetil Eide can share heaps of historic information and fun facts.
“There are also a surprisingly large number of people visiting us from Hadeland and Gran area, many of whom come here about 6-7 times a year. And I don’t really have a good explanation for that,” Kjetil adds with a smile.
“We generally have a lot of return guests – people often want to stay in the same room and ideally they also like having the same waiter! We even have a guest who stays with us for two months every year and likes things just so! It’s really nice to know that people feel so at home here,” Kjetil says.
A truly idyllic location
Few cities are as idyllic as this charming little coastal town on the sunny side of the Oslo Fjord, just a short drive from Oslo. The maritime surroundings provide plenty of bathing spots, and the lovely town centre has gorgeous little shops, several art galleries, restaurants and farm shops, in addition to a lovely golf course just 10 minutes away by car.
There are plenty of wonderful natural scenery near the Reenskaug Hotel.
During the winter, you’re sure to be filled by the spirit of Christmas as you wander through the charming streets – and you’ll find the Reenskaug Hotel right in the heart of the town!
We are immediately overwhelmed by how cosy and modern it is inside The Lobby, which serves as a lobby, bar, restaurant and popular hangout! This is also where breakfast is served.
A man is very focused on his laptop and an older couple are enjoying a nice lunch. There is some lovely music playing and the staff in the lobby and bar are smiling and chatting away. It feels wonderful as soon as we step inside!
“Our doors are open to everyone, regardless of whether you need a place to get some work done for a few hours, you fancy a snack or a nice drink, or whether you just need somewhere to sit down and relax for a while in welcoming setting,” Kjetil says.
Course packages, confirmations & other events
After enjoying a lovely lunch featuring lots of delicious ingredients, and we learn that the Reenskaug takes allergies very seriously, Kjetil shows several rooms that can be used to host weddings, confirmations, christenings and funerals, as well as birthday celebrations, summer parties, Christmas get-togethers and other festivities! The rooms are spacious and inviting. There is also a private dining room that is suitable for up to 10 people and is equipped with video conferencing equipment.
You can enjoy a delicious lunch in the restaurant.
A course? A conference? A meeting? It’s all possible here in this charming setting!
“This weekend, we have one confirmation with 37 people, one with 20 people and one with 25 people in three different rooms, all at the same time. Fortunately, everyone gets the same menu!” Kjetil says, before singing the praises of his wonderful kitchen staff.
Hamsun, Munch & Parrot rooms
To learn more about the hotel ghost, “Mrs Bollette”, we head upstairs to have a look at some of the hotel rooms, including the Parrot Room and the Angel Room. We arrive at number 213 and learn that Knut Hamsun wrote Sværmere (Mothwise/Dreamers) in this very room, the Hamsun Room. The historic furnishings are time appropriate, and the room probably looks just like it did back when Hamsun stayed here. And we catch a glimpse of the sea from here as well. We proceed to the Munch Room and learn that he had a lover staying nearby in room 215. He clearly had a generous soul.
Room 213, the Hamsun Room. Knut Hamsun stayed in the hotel’s corner room in 1903, while his new home was being built, and wrote the novel Sværmere (Mothwise/Dreamers) here during that time.
“Munch used to throw money out of the window to the boys selling cherries on Lehmannsbrygge, a bridge near the hotel. Every time they passed by the hotel to sell their cherries, he threw some spare change at them, to give them some extra money,” Kjetil says and tells us that they are planning to give the room a more historic design like the Hamsum Room.
The Parrot Room – perhaps somewhat surprising?
We move on to view the Parrot Room covered in parrot décor and the Angel Room that has a fabulous bed. Kjetil tells us that many return guests request these rooms, but he’s not entirely sure why. There are also a number of “normal” rooms, all of which offer charming accommodation with comfortable beds, a minibar and crisp bed linen!
Famous paintings used as insulation
There are lots of nooks and crannies in this fabulous building and Kjetil tells us with great enthusiasm what the various common areas and living spaces have been used for over the years – one of the rooms that is now a cosy living room with lounge furniture was once a piano bar.
We see several paintings by the artist Anton Thoresen, who was born in Drøbak, and learn that several of his paintings were actually found in the attic, having been used as insulation. Fortunately, they were taken carefully removed, restored and displayed here at the hotel.
"I don't believe in ghosts, but there are ghosts here."
We’re back in The Lobby and we want to find out more about the rumored ghost that has allegedly been sighted here. NB! These stories are open to interpretation – you either believe them or not. It’s entirely up to you!
“I don’t believe in ghosts, but there are ghosts here,” Kjetil claims. His colleague Jeanette in the bar overhears our conversation and adds that she has seen the ghost here several times. We need to get to the bottom of this!
“We have several specific examples of ghosts being here – and many people have said we should be on Åndenes Makt [Norwegian TV series “The Power of the Spirits”]. But we don’t want to do that – it would all be too awkward. I don’t even believe in ghosts.”
“But I must admit that the stories have made me doubt myself,” Kjetil says with a big frown. “There was a boy, about 4-5 years old, who suddenly started talking to someone in the lift, who he claimed was wearing a white dress. No one else saw her.”
“Another guest claimed that a lady wearing a white dress floated into the room and then ‘flew’ out again. There was also a main who said that he was ‘pushed’ out of the bar even though no one else saw him being pushed.”
“We thought he was just very drunk, but we quickly found out that was not the case... And it’s not hard to imagine the kind of clothes that lady was wearing,” says Kjetil.
A WHOLE room covered in beer glasses
We learn that this ghost with the white dress most probably was “Mrs Bollette”, the lady who once owned and lived in Reenskaug right at the beginning. This gives us goosebumps… Kjetil is sure that those people who have told him of their sightings were not aware of any other ghost stories, since they have never been spoken of publicly (until now!). Regardless, all the stories have always involved a lady in a white dress. The last story Kjetil tells us is the most bizarre of all.
“The strangest thing happened back in 1992. One morning we found beer glasses of various sizes stacked on top of each other from floor to ceiling filling the entire room where the bar used to be! We’re talking about an whole room full of beer glasses! And we know for sure that there was no one in the building that night, and we also know that there were no such stacks of beer glasses when the last people left the building the day before,” Kjetil explains and we find ourselves immediately agreeing with everyone who thinks that Reenskaug Hotel should be on Åndenes Makt [Norwegian TV series “The Power of the Spirits”].
It’s time to leave this idyllic gem of a hotel. We bid our farewells and wander out into the charming, narrow streets of Drøbak. Maybe we’ll return to spend the night there some time, if only to have the opportunity to obtain our very own ghost story, though perhaps most of all to experience a stay in the Angel Room. We receive a text message from our Oslo-based friend Petter Larsen, who has seen some of the pictures we took at the hotel:
Petter Larsen and his group of friends have nothing but praise for the Reenskaug Hotel.
We immediately decide to return as soon as we can. We know that lunch is good, but we still have dinner and breakfast to try! Perhaps we’ll just do a "Petter" and treat ourselves to a night on the town with an overnight stay…and perhaps a bit of shopping in the gorgeous little shops the next day. According to Kjetil, Reenskaug has apparently long been known as “the fjord's best place for a night out” among the slightly older crowd, and we can certainly understand how this place manages to be so popular with people of all ages.